Lather, Rinse, Stop

Did you know that the second most followed direction (“Dry Clean Only” is the first) is disappearing?! (Or would that be “…disappearing!?” I’m never sure which is right and that’s a style the Chicagoans haven’t addressed.) (I think.) Anyway, the second most followed direction in the whole world isn’t there anymore – sort of. “Lather, rinse, repeat” is vanishing from shampoo bottles throughout the hair care aisle at mega-marts all over! I discovered this last week when I was checking out the labels of all the personal grooming products at home and at the supermarket – because I have that kind of time.

It struck me as odd that of all that needs to be primped on our bodies, only hair requires multiple goes. My shaving cream doesn’t say “lather, shave, repeat,” nor does my deodorant instruct me to “swipe, wipe, repeat.” And the soap and shower gel expect me to work up a generous lather but say nothing of doing it more than once.

I thought that perhaps it’s not grooming items that harbor this expectation of duplication of application but it’s the soap based products that are insufficient to do their thing the first time around. So I checked the dish soap and found nothing but “not to be taken internally” under the picture of the oranges on the label. The window cleaner is sure enough of itself to read simply to spray and wipe clean. Tub and tile cleaner need only be sprayed on and wiped off with a wet cloth or sponge. (And if used on stainless steel it wants to be rinsed with plain water. I did not know that.) Although the toilet cleaner has more instructions than the car wash cleaner regarding how uncontaminated you want the end result, each direction need be followed but one time.

My mind was reeling. How can it be that one, and only this one aid to readying for our day requires multiple applications? A simple as the three steps are (lather, rinse, repeat -remember), is it really necessary to do them four times (lather, rinse, lather, rinse)? I pulled out my own bottle of shampoo and gave the label a good looking over. And there they were –

“Directions for use: Apply to hair. Lather then rinse.”

Wait. Lather then rinse? What happened to repeat? Had I been imagining step three. I couldn’t have been. Jokes were built upon it; campaigns were written for it. Do this. Do that. Repeat. I hadn’t imagined an entire pop culture. If I had, where are my royalties?! (or !?)

That’s when I took my quest to the street. Or to the aisle as it was. And there I was, in that aisle, selecting a product, reading the label, saying “hmm,” replacing the product, and moving on. Bottle after bottle. After bottle. After another. And so on. And on. And this is what I found –

Lather? Yes. Rinse? Yes again. Repeat? Well… Sometimes.

The mid-range, middle of the road, mass marketed, recognizable brands now bore the legend, “Lather then rinse.” Those brands aimed to the men’s market had no directions. (We wouldn’t follow them anyway.) High end “designer” shampoos informed the user that to achieve best results use with other products in that particular designer’s line including (but I would imagine not limited to) conditioner, deep conditioner, instant conditioner, conditioning mousse, styling gel, and light to the touch, extra hold finishing spray. Store brands proclaimed themselves to be the “Best Value!!!”

Lather? Yes. Rinse? Yes. Where is Repeat?

Finally I found it. On the dandruff and medicated shampoo shelves was the elusive thirst step – Lather, Rinse, Repeat. Buoyed by my discovery I pressed on.

There is a similar wording on the higher side of the mass marketed crowd, the ones not quite as expensive as the designer series of products but more than those aimed at Mr., Mrs., and Ms. Jo(e) Normal. They are the ones that include the product description and directions in French. Those advise the user to “Lather, Rinse, and Repeat if desired.” (Faire mousser, rincer et répéter si vous le souhaitez.)

So I wasn’t imagining it. Lather Rinse Repeat is still out there but in moderation. That’s the best way to take things anyway. With a little moderation. And repeat if desired.

That’s what I think. Really. How ‘bout you?



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